The arcade world hates to lose a good thing and once it hit on Space Invaders it was determined no to let the idea go. One of the most recent variations is the space rover game, where the hapless hero not only has to avoid attackers from the depths of space, but also jump his buggy over craters and fend off nasties zooming in along the surface of the planet.
English Software's version of the game has most of the features of the original. The sprites are commendably chunky with a rotund Sid in his sporty rover, large saucer-shaped aliens and rocks of two sizes bearing a strong recemblance to inverted strawberries. Drones charge towards you at awkward moments and various other obstacles have to be negotiated.
Every time you collide with something or are hit by anything, you lose one of five lives.
Things move fairly slowly, but is still easy to drive yourself into a situation where there is no escape from switch and terrible destruction. When this happens, the buggy collapses in a burst of flying wheels, which bounce away most convincingly. The sound effects are nothing exciting, but adqueate to convey the required events.
I found the game hard to play because of the choice of control keys. There are only four main ones: Z and X to accelerate and brake, SHIFT to jump and RETURN to fire bolts up and across the screen. It is all too easy (and usually fatal) to confuse these last two and plough straight into an obstacle. Surely, any new game which relies on keyboard control should cater for the player's choice of keys. To add to the difficulty, there were several occasions when the Fire key failed to respond at all, resulting in a premature loss of wheels.
English Software was acquired a deserved reputation for high quality software on the Atari machine. Spaceman Sid is, to my knowledge, the first release for the BBC. In most ways, it lives up to their reputation.